Thanks to tremendous community support CHEO can offer specialized care to patients in our region. Here is a snapshot of how your money has had a positive impact on the level of care CHEO staff can provide.

Helping kids be kids – Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs)

Every year, approximately 1,500 Canadian babies are born with, or will develop, early progressive hearing loss. While devices such as cochlear implants are funded by the government, there are certain conditions they cannot help, for example, structural malformations of the ear. This is where Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, or BAHAs, come in.

By bypassing the outer and middle ear, a BAHA can increase hearing in noisy situations and help localize sounds. It uses the bones of the skull to conduct sound. In addition to improved speech understanding, it results in a natural sound with less distortion and feedback compared with conventional hearing aids.

At a cost of more than $4,000, a BAHA can help a child with significant hearing loss hear well enough to develop speech and language – important for their early childhood development, ability to learn in school, participate in activities and make friends.

While BAHAs are surgically attached to the skull bone once the bone is thick enough, one advantage of these devices is that they can be used in the first few years of life by securing the BAHA with a headband to the toddler’s head before they are big enough to have surgery.

The CHEO Foundation supports CHEO’s Audiology Program by providing funds for equipment and supplies that are not currently covered by public funding. Last year, your generous gifts helped ensure that five children were able to access BAHA devices.

Family Assistance – Helping CHEO’s Kids

Max Keeping has been CHEO’s greatest ambassador and champion for the past 40 years and his legacy is built on his unwavering commitment to caring for kids. From appearing on the CHEO Telethon each June, to countless appearances at special events, to many hospital visits to raise the spirits of children, youth and their families, Max has shown great passion for the CHEO cause.

The Max Keeping Fund for Kids has been established to ensure that his name and his steadfast support for children and families remain ever-present at CHEO and within our community. Donations to this fund help families who may not have the financial means to cover all of the expenses relating to their child’s medical care.

The tremendous support of donors from across the region provides more than $100,000 each year to assist hundreds of CHEO families in need. From overnight stays at Ronald McDonald House and Rotel to allow families from far away to stay together, to helping with the extra costs of meals at the hospital, to assistance with travel expenses and support for the purchase of medical equipment and supplies that are not covered by provincial health or insurance plans, the CHEO Foundation helps families in need when it matters most.

This fund was very dear to Max and we are thrilled that it will be a lasting tribute to his life’s work and continue to make a difference in the lives of CHEO’s kids.

Chronic Pain – comfort ability workshops – Helping to ease the pain

CHEO’s Chronic Pain Program is the only chronic pain program to support youth in eastern Ontario. It is a multi-professional program, involving expertise from a range of health care professionals including a physician, psychiatrist, psychologists, pharmacist, physiotherapists, nurse practitioners, occupational therapist, and a social worker.

Patients admitted to CHEO’s Chronic Pain Program are experiencing significant pain that has lasted more than three months with no identifiable natural cause. Symptoms can include migraines, musculo-skeletal pain, abdominal pain and more.

Often in their teens, but sometimes as young as eight years old, youth with chronic pain are unable to attend school and can’t participate in their regular activities like sports and hobbies or even hang out with their friends. Chronic pain impacts the entire family and can be very isolating. This summer, CHEO launched new comfort ability workshops to assist patients and their families. These workshops, modelled after a program at Boston Children’s Hospital, are held every month for CHEO’s patients suffering from chronic pain.

The goal of the comfort ability workshop is to help youth and families manage chronic pain and provide them with tools and coping strategies to manage their symptoms. These might include meditation, tools like stress balls, and other visualization and relaxation techniques using senses like touch and smell. Since they were introduced earlier this year, 40 patients and their families have participated in these supportive workshops.

It is thanks to donor dollars that the CHEO Foundation can provide the important funds to run each of the workshops, providing all of the materials and a take-home “Comfort Kit” for each patient, as well as providing key training to CHEO staff working in the Chronic Pain Program.

Child Life

Child life specialists are a very special group of staffers who work hands-on with patients helping to make a hospital stay feel as normal as possible.

By definition child life specialists are pediatric health care professionals who work with children and families to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability. They work on each patient unit as well as medical day unit, day surgery and the Emergency department. They provide children with age-appropriate preparation for medical procedures, pain management and coping strategies. Child life specialists are right there with the patient as they grow and develop in the face of an illness but they never forget the other members of the family. Child life professionals support a philosophy of “family centered care” which is directly aligned with CHEO’s values.

Child life specialists are a key part of the professional care team at CHEO and integral to the care that CHEO provides to patients and their families. Thanks to incredible community support, the CHEO Foundation was able to provide more than $250,000 to this unique program at CHEO.

Child Life has several programs supported by the CHEO Foundation. One, called the “CLICK” program, supports more than 150 patients at CHEO each year using technology. These patients often have complex medical conditions and this program helps them cope through various medical procedures. When a patient needs support during a procedure, child life specialists work one on one with them to explain the procedure in advance, using tools such as an iPad to walk through some coping strategies and support the child as the test is performed.

The child life program is 100 percent funded by donor dollars. Annually, $100,000 is allocated to the child life program to ensure it continues.